The Guineas of West Virginia
A Transcript of A Presentation at First Union
July 25, 1997, Wise Virginia
Joanne Johnson Smith & Florence Kennedy Barnett

Our people are known as the Guineas. The earliest family names prior to 1800 are Male, Norris, Dorton, Harris, Canaday, Newman and Croston.

The men have fought and died in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and all of those thereafter.

I believe each of our people has the name Male as an ancestor. Some of the other names we may or may not have. There are four names that most of us go back to in our lineage. They are Gustavis Croston, Henry Dorton, Sam Norris and Wilmore Male.

He earliest Male in our direct line that have located is Wilmore Male. Wilmore signed a petition in Maryland in 1768 to move the county seat from Joppa to Baltimore Town. Sometime after that, he and his family moved to Berkeley County, Virginia and by 1782 they had moved west to Hampshire County, Virginia. Sam Norris was already there.

According to our oral history, Sam's mother was an English girl named Elizabeth Norris. She was the daughter of William Norris of Monongalia County., Virginia who also had two sons. William Norris captured a young Cherokee boy traveling north with a party of Cherokees--the Draper Manuscripts state there was a party of Cherokees traveling in the area about this time. William named the boy Sam. Elizabeth, who was called Betsy, and Sam had to go get the cows in the evening, and guess what? Betsy got pregnant. As the story goes, Betsy's brothers took Sam into the mountains and killed him. I do know that William Norris had two sons and a daughter named Elizabeth. I have a copy of his will and he left Elizabeth out. Of course we know why. Betsy gave birth to a son in 1750, and she named him Sam, after his father. In 1764, Sam left the Monongalia County area with a family by the name of Gaul. They went to the present county of Barbour, West Virginia. Betsy followed and hacked off approximately 1,625 acres of land. She thought she had 750. She got a deed and put it in Sam's name. I have found the land grant settlement which is in Sam Norris' name. Sam had lost about 600 acres of the land according to the grant. While here, Sam married a Delaware woman named Pretty Hair--also according to the Draper Manuscripts and the Horn Papers there were Delaware living in the Morgantown region at this time.

Sam and Pretty Hair started their family on what was later called Hackers Creek, named after a white man who had settled there by the name of John Hacker. It was around this time that the Males arrived in the area: Wilmore Male, his wife and children.

The Males and Norrises intermarried early, along with the Dorton, Harris, Newman, Croston, and Canaday families.

Prior to 1800, all of these families were listed as white, starting with a census they took in 1782, one in 1784, and the first U.S. Census in 1790. In the 1810 census they were listed as Free Persons of Color or Mulatto. There were times when someone in the same family would be listed as white, and the rest of the family as Mulatto.

Another example is the Harris family, beginning with Peter and Billy Harris. Oral history states that they were Cherokee Indian. In the Draper Manuscripts there is a Peter and Billy Harris in Virginia that fought in the Revolutionary War. They came from the Carolinas and were Catawba Indians. I would have to believe these are our Peter and Billy but on the census they are listed as Mulatto. Whether they were Cherokee or Catawba, we do know they were Native American.

After 1800, other names began appearing and marrying within our people: Collins, Parsons, Pritchard, and Goins to name a few. Around 1840, the Adams and Minards (Minerds) started marrying our people.

Our people settled in Ohio in the early 1800's and there a few more names appeared. Over the years they have migrated to several states.
There are many stories about our people which have been written and told, some true, some not. One of my favorites is in the West Virginia history when a group of Indians attacked the settlers on Hackers Creek and killed some and ran others off. Our oral history states that Sam Norris watched from his porch as this took place. The Indians were supposed to be our Grandmother Pretty Hair's people. As I mentioned before, Sam was the first man to settle here and this was his land. The settlers were probably told to leave and didn't, so Grandmother's people took them out.

Florence Barnett will give you the presentation of our family names.

...I know you may have heard or read different explanations as to where we originated. Remember that not everything that is in print is necessarily true. We would like you to keep an open mind as we, the Guineas, tell you about ourselves, since we know more about our heritage than anyone else.

Now I'm going to tell you what we have learned from our oral tradition and 20 or more years of research. Nothing we say is infallible, and if anyone has something to add to our research please share it.

The father of the Male line in West Virginia (Wilmore) came to America in 1765 from England with his wife and several children. We first find him signing a petition to remove the county seat from Joppa to Baltimore Town, Maryland in 1768. Next he is found on the census in 1784 and 1790 living in Hampshire County, Virginia. He and his family were listed on the census as 10 white souls. In the same county, in 1810 he and his family were listed on the census as eight free persons of color. The whole family had changed color. A free person of color at that time meant any person that was not white no matter what nationality they were. Why did the Males' racial classification suddenly change?

Oral tradition tells us that Wilmore II married a woman named Priscilla Harris. Her father was supposed to have been Cherokee, and her mother was a servant on the Calm's plantation in Maryland. The mother's nationality was not known. This oral tradition is supported by its publication in the April 16, 1936 edition of the Mountain Democrat. The article was entitled Garrett County History of Pioneer Families by Charles Hoye. Wilmore's other son James was supposed to have married the daughter of an Indian scout of Cherokee descent. This is written in the Males of Barbour County, West Virginia by Bernard Victor Mayhle. These marriages account for the sudden change in the racial classification of the Male family. In 1899, a Smithsonian anthropologist by the name of James Mooney sent out a questionnaire to physicians in communities in Maryland, Delaware and North Carolina concerning various topics having to do with Indians and Indian remains. These results are still in the archives of the Bureau of American Ethnology in Washington, D.C. The findings show that there were three or four families going by the name of Male or Mail in the extreme western part of Maryland near Oakland and Deer Park who had traditionally migrated from Hampshire County, Virginia, a few generations before William Gilbert says in his article, "Mixed Bloods of the Upper Monongahela Valley, West Virginia," "It is likely, that from these much smaller pockets of Indians remnants the recruits were drawn together sometime during the nineteenth century to form the nucleus of the larger present day settlement of Guineas in Barbour and Taylor Counties, West Virginia." This was written in 1956. This is the most common name [Male--ed.] f ound in our people.

I saac Kennedy or Cannady was born in Maryland in 1760. He married Mary Runner. Isaac is the father of the Kennedy line of the Guineas. His son was born in Hampshire County, Virginia in 1800. His wife was Elizabeth Male. We share the two variations of this name with the Chickahomini of Virginia and the Melungeons. The Kennedys or Cannadys migrated with the Males to Barbour and Taylor counties.

Joanne has already told the oral tradition of Sam Norris and Pretty Hair. They were already in the Barbour County area when the Males and Kennedys arrived. Records show that the Cherokees were traveling through that part of western Virginia during the time that Sam's father was captured by William Norris. The Horn Papers by W. T. Horn, show that William Penn transferred the Delaware to the territory, bounding the western branches of the middle reaches of Monongahela River in 1696. This included Green County, Pennsylvania, parts of Washington and Fayette Counties, and nearby territory in what is now West Virginia. This would now be in Monongalia County, in the vicinity of Morgantown. The puzzle is starting to fit together.

Gustavis Croston, the father of the Croston line in Barbour and Taylor Counties, was born in 1757 in Hampshire County. He along with Wilmore Male, Sr., and Henry Dorton or Dalton, served in the Revolutionary War. It was said that Croston was a spy. We don't know whom he married. Some of the Crostons were called Leather Heads and others were known as Black Dutch. If anyone knows what these two terms mean, I would appreciate the information. Two of his children married Male's and migrated to Barbour and Taylor Counties.

Henry Dorton or Dalton is the father of the Dalton line in Monongalia, Barbour and Taylor Counties. He was born in Prince George County, Maryland to Ann Dorton or Dalton. She was an indentured servant of Jane Martin, an Innkeeper. In 1777 he was drafted into the Revolutionary Army. On June 4, 1781, he married Eleanor Russel, in Prince George County, Maryland. In 1790, he migrated to what is now Monongalia County, West Virginia. Some of his children married into the Males and Hills. As years passed, the family spread into Barbour and Taylor counties, also. On a personal note, I am acquainted with some of the Daltons and find that most of them still have a very striking Indian resemblance. Service records that some of the Daltons entered the service under the racial classification of Indian.

One line of Adams came into Monongalia County in 1840 from Pennsylvania. His name was John and he married Nancy Pritchard, the daughter of Warner Pritchard and Sophia Goins. Their children first married the Males and Daltons. Another line came out of Tucker County, West Virginia. We don't know much about them. We share this name with the Mattaponi Indians of Virginia.

One line of the Newmans came from Loudon County, Virginia, and married into the Crostons early on. We also found marriages between them and the Piscataways of Maryland.

The Minards also came from Pennsylvania and may have had French Canadian connections. Records show that some Minards went with Lewis and Clark on their expedition west. They married into the Sioux and came back with the group.

The last two names of our people are the Parsons and the Collins. These are the ones we know the least about. We do find these two names listed on the 1784 Hampshire County census, along with the Males and Newmans but we don't know if these are our Parsons and Collinses. We do share the name Collins with the Mattaponi and Pamunkey of Virginia, the Melungeons and the Creoles of Alabama.
Other families that married into our people early on were the Johnsons, Hills, Cooks, Burkes, Russels, Stevens, Proctors, Thompsons, Barnetts, and DeCosta's. Are these some of your family names? Is there a connection between these names and your groups? These are some of the questions we hope will be answered by the research of the Melungeon Heritage Committee.

I want to mention one thing about the DeCosta's. This is the only family name that married into our people which may be of Portuguese descent.

I want to add that after the removal of the Indian Tribes to the west, only two major classifications were used on the census in the Eastern U.S. These were white and colored. In which category were non-reservation Indians usually listed? The colored. As time went on, colored began to mean black. Just in the last few years this racial classification has begun to change for us, since we have started to place ourselves in the American Indian category on census records and documents.

In closing, I would like to mention two or three books that would give you further reading about our people. The first is The Males of Barbour County, WV by Bernard Victor Mayhle. This book is done in five editions and it is the genealogy of the Males and related families. Books on the Adamses, Hills, Barnetts, and more are written by Glenn Barnett II . . . Last is the book Our Kind of People, Identity, Community and Religion on Chestnut Ridge by Thomas McElwain, copyright 1981. The writer was a student from the University of Stockholm, Sweden, He tells of our struggle to fight the racial category we were placed in, the discrimination we continue to endure, but most of all our determination to regain our Indian recognition .